Autumn Travels

Unable to see it directly
As I drive toward the east
Only a quick glance
In the rearview
Assures its
Appearance
Eyes back on the road
Lavenders
And pinks
Soon fill the sky
In my periphery
Both to the north
And to the south
Gradually blending
With the darkening
Indigo up ahead
Although unable
To see it directly
For a few moments
Sunset surrounds me
Sharing its splendor
Carrying me
Into the night
Leaving me ready
For peaceful rest

Pink Petals

Pink flowers
Graced
The bed
Yesterday
Fluttering
In the breeze
As if to say
Isn’t it a lovely day?
Rains came
Winds grew
Now pink petals
Cover the ground
I don’t think
They are sad
Just seeing
The world
From a new
Perspective
Knowing
Their blooms will
Remain in memories
As they fade into dust

I wrote this poem at a recent writing circle with Ali Grimshaw. flashlightbatteries I continue to enjoy this process and the lovely people I’ve gotten to know. 💞

Only Tears

Driving home
In darkness
News of the day
Settled in
Sorrow
For lives
Once again
Tragically taken
Sadness
For those
Left to grieve
The unthinkable
Each of us
Knows loss
Death is part
Of this life-
But for this…
No words
Only tears
Falling from
My eyes
Only tears
Falling
From the sky
Driving home
In darkness

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Forever Sharing

My heart used to
Think letting go
Was harder than
Holding on-
Moments I wished
Could last forever-
Nothing lasts forever
No matter how
Tightly gripped-
Experience taught me
Tighter the grip
Greater the chances
Of shattering
The treasured into
A million tiny pieces-
I am learning to hold
Precious moments with
A more gentle touch
Like cuddling
A newborn baby
Or caressing
Weathered hands-
Where joy slowly fills
The heart to overflowing
Seeping out of every pore
Spilling onto anyone
Who comes near
A limitless circle
Of holding close
Then letting go-
Hmmm…maybe…
Sharing is forever

Lessons in the Fire

It has been many years since
I sat around a campfire,
Or any fire created by
Putting a flame to a branch
Once belonging to a tree

Recent fires were made from
Glass, manufactured logs, and gas
Although these provide heat
As well as beauty
Something was missing

Perhaps it was the smell
Rising from the meeting
Of flame and wood
Changing based on
The origin of the tree

Perhaps it was the sight
Of the ashes left behind
Once the fire has gone out
Reminding us of our origins
And where our bodies will return

An unquestioned reliance
Assures us one spark will
Transform the cold night air
Maybe that was the difference-
The cold night air

Actually, I think there are
Too many differences to count-
Each one offering lessons
Frailty and faithfulness in
The physical and spiritual

Comfort in Sadness

I felt so sad this morning. I wanted to write last night, but I just couldn’t get my thoughts on paper. The source-the knowledge of two suicides in one day.

Two different people, in two different states. Neither one directly connected to me, but both connected to people I know and love. Those closest to these individuals left with more questions than answers.

I was struck with one question. If these two tragic deaths are causing such sadness for me, how much more for those directly impacted? What is my response? How can I possibly say anything to help?

I prayed, sent texts, checked in. That is a start, but certainly not enough. I must be more aware. Aware that there are hurting people around me. And they may not show just how deep their hurt dwells.

This sadness affected my teaching today. I was not as energetic as usual. I worked hard to keep my emotions in check. And I was pretty successful until the afternoon.

My fifth-grade classes require lots of patience and energy. They are right after lunch. I was tired. I tried to push through but was struggling.

Near the end of class, I was suddenly fighting back tears. No warning. And then one student asked, “Mrs. Morris, are you sad?” I nodded my head. “Did I make you sad?” “Oh no, of course not,” I responded, hoping there were no more questions.

And so tonight I sit, still sad. Still thinking about all those affected by this kind of tragedy. There is only one place to turn.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Tomorrow I will get up and face the day. I will pray for those walking through this dark valley. That they will somehow begin to experience that comfort in their sadness.

Good Girl

I never thought I’d have a dog inside the house, much less two. But we have now for about 13 years. Poppy, a runt miniature dachshund, was our first.

We adopted Poppy from an animal rescue group and surprised our kids. She was tiny and sweet. Slept in the crook of my arm for the first several months of her life.

Several years later, we decided Poppy could use some company. My husband really wanted a bigger dog. Some dear friends needed to find a new home for their chocolate lab, Ginger. We were the perfect fit!

Poppy and Ginger got along. I’d say they eventually became friends, though others might disagree. Maybe it was more like sisters who tolerate each other. 😉

Poppy often reminded Ginger who was in charge. She would stand by Ginger’s bed and stare until Ginger moved. Of course, Ginger also liked to sneak by Poppy’s food bowl and take a bite when no one was looking.

Over the past couple of years, they both turned gray and started to slow down. They were a little fussy but still sweet and much more mellow. My daughter often laughed, ” It’s like we have two grandma dogs living with us.”

Ginger’s eyesight began to fail as well as her hips. Although she still had moments of spark, most evenings she would whimper and cry. There was no doubt she was in pain. A couple of falls solidified the decision to visit the vet.

Gart took her yesterday for an evaluation. We all knew it was probably time. She did not come back home with him.

Our house was too quiet last night. Poppy was confused. She sniffed everywhere as if she were searching. I believe she was missing her friend.

This morning’s routine was different. Ginger wasn’t there for me to let outside and feed. Her bowl sits empty. There’s an air of sadness.

We will miss you Ginger girl. We will miss the way you would walk by us. Walk by and lick our shoes. Walk by and lick our jeans. Walk by and finish Poppy’s food. But mostly we will miss the way you would walk by, wag your tail, and lay your head in our laps.

You were such a good girl. 🙂

Purposefully Remembering

Today marks three years since my father-n-law, Bob died. Each of us remembers him in our own way, with our own actions. Most importantly, we purposefully remember. We choose certain things that to others might seem insignificant, but to us say Papa, Dad, Bob.

Here are a few:

Peanut butter on pancakes
Wild Cherry Pepsi
Chocolate covered cherries
Lego sets
Family photos
Catholic Mass
Barbecue rib dinner
Extra whipped cream on your dessert
A cigar and sip of Drambuie

Finding words may be difficult, but incorporating these little things into our day help us remember him and smile. Each item represents something we know he enjoyed or something he would often get for us. He was always generous. Always thinking about his family. Loved to spoil his grandkids.

We miss him…grateful that the life he lived continues to influence ours.

Pieces of Your Heart

Grandparents are special people. My grandparents were an essential part of my childhood. Spending time with them was important. As a child, you don’t really think about losing them. You imagine they will be part of your world forever. Then you become a young adult, or in my case, a high school student and that idea is shattered.

When my Grandpa Mahar died, it was very sudden. Early on the morning of July 4th, he woke up before anyone else, sat down in his favorite chair, and did not wake up again. We had seen him the day before. The family would be gathering on the 4th to celebrate. How could he be gone?

I mostly remember shock and tears from that day, almost thirty-five years ago now. The reality of my mom losing her dad brought a new perspective on the frailty and brevity of life on this earth. And it was made even more difficult because there had been no chance to say goodbye. This seemed especially hard for my mom and her siblings.

This was not the case for my own children with their first loss of a grandparent. Before my father-n-law passed away, we knew our time was limited. Watching as death approached was not easy, but we found comfort in having time to say goodbye. He will have been gone for three years this coming week, and we miss him more with each passing year.

One circumstance is not easier than the other, just different. Grief is present in both. We hang on tight to memories. We look at photos, share stories, cling to anything that reminds us of the person we lost. And as soon as we think our grief is fading, a birthday, holiday, or other event brings it right back to the forefront.

Sometimes the grief catches us off guard, and we are encompassed by unexpected emotions. How do we respond? That depends on the person, for we are all different. But here are a few personal thoughts:

When tears well up
Let them fall
When your heart aches
Let words flow
When a friend is near
Lean on them
When feeling motionless
Take one step
When tempted to forget
Remember
For that memory
Is a piece of your heart

A memory of my Grandpa Mahar: He is wearing overalls and telling me if I do him a favor, he will dance at my wedding. 😉

A memory of my father-n-law: He would always bring me a box of See’s candy when traveling to California. We both had quite a sweet tooth. 🙂

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Lifting My Head

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

I have not considered this verse in a long time. Reading it in the past always reminded me of the song, “Thou, Oh Lord,” by Lisa Ireland. I’m not sure when I first heard or sang this song, but the beautiful overlapping melodic lines and powerful words are easy to recall. I can hear them in my head right now…

Take a listen. https://youtu.be/_aYRfUmGpmo

When this verse popped up on my phone today, I thought of the song for a moment, but then my thinking took a different direction. Three clear ideas came to mind-birth, sickness, and death. These notions shifted my focus to the last phrase “lifter of my head.” It’s an unusual phrase, certainly not one you hear every day.

The first thing that came to mind was a newborn baby. I pictured new parents, cradling the head of their precious little one. The baby does not yet have the strength to hold its head up. The mom and dad are the shields, protecting until the child grows stronger. I’ve experienced this feeling of responsibility with my own children as I held their tiny heads in my hands, keeping them safe.

The sweet image of newness was quickly followed by the idea of frailty and illness. Many of us have taken care of someone who is sick. Too weak to even lift their head, needing assistance to take a sip of water. If you have had the opportunity to help in this situation, you know it’s not easy. Here I’m reminded of my mom’s battle with breast cancer, and the assistance she required following surgery.

Finally, I pictured the end of life, the process of dying. A time when we are once again reminded of our weakness and frailty. If ever we need someone to lift our head, this is the time. What a comforting gesture, providing a shield against our fears. This one is the most difficult, one our family faced together as my father-n-law bravely battled cancer to the very end.

“The lifter of my head.”

In each scenario-birth, illness, death-this sweet phrase brings much comfort. Such reassurance in knowing there are people in our lives who love and support us during critical times. Even more so the knowledge there is a God who is concerned with each of these moments. And that He places people in our path to demonstrate this love.

While at my weakest, I do not have to be afraid. When I am unable to lift my head, help will come.